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EUROPEAN UROLOGY 57 (2010) 35–48
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Guidelines – Pelvic Pain
EAU Guidelines on Chronic Pelvic Pain
Magnus Fall a,*, Andrew P. Baranowski b, Sohier Elneil c, Daniel Engeler d, John Hughes e,
Embert J. Messelink f, Frank Oberpenning g, Amanda C. de C. Williams h
Department of Urology, Sahlgrenska Academy, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden
Pain Management Centre, The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, University College London Hospitals Foundation Trust,
London, United Kingdom
Centre for Urogynaecology, The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, University College London Hospitals Foundation Trust,
London, United Kingdom
Department of Urology, Cantonal Hospital St. Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland
Pain Management Unit, The James Cook University Hospital, Middlesborough, United Kingdom
Department of Urology, University Hospital Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
Department of Urology, St-Agnes Hospital, Bocholt, Germany
University College London Hospitals Foundation Trust, London, United Kingdom
Article info
Article history:
Accepted August 19, 2009
Published online ahead of
print on August 31, 2009
Context: These guidelines were prepared on behalf of the European Association of
Urology (EAU) to help urologists assess the evidence-based management of chronic
pelvic pain (CPP) and to incorporate the recommendations into their clinical
Objective: To revise guidelines for the diagnosis, therapy, and follow-up of CPP
Evidence acquisition: Guidelines were compiled by a working group and based on
a systematic review of current literature using the PubMed database, with important papers reviewed for the 2003 EAU guidelines as a background. A panel of
experts weighted the references.
Evidence synthesis: The full text of the guidelines is available through the EAU
Central Office and the EAU Web site (www.uroweb.org). This article is a short
version of the full guidelines text and summarises the main conclusions from the
guidelines on the management of CPP.
Conclusions: A guidelines text is presented including chapters on chronic prostate
pain and bladder pain syndromes, urethral pain, scrotal pain, pelvic pain in
gynaecologic practice, neurogenic dysfunctions, the role of the pelvic floor and
pudendal nerve, psychological factors, general treatment of CPP, nerve blocks, and
neuromodulation. These guidelines have been drawn up to provide support in the
management of the large and difficult group of patients suffering from CPP.
Bladder pain syndrome
Chronic pelvic pain
EAU guidelines
Interstitial cystitis
Prostate pain syndrome
# 2009 European Association of Urology. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
* Corresponding author. Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Urology, Sahgrenska University
Hospital, Göteborg, 413 45, Sweden. Tel. +46 31 342 23 30; Fax: +46 31 82 17 40.
E-mail address: [email protected] (M. Fall).
0302-2838/$ – see back matter # 2009 European Association of Urology. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
EUROPEAN UROLOGY 57 (2010) 35–48
The European Association of Urology (EAU) Guideline Group
for chronic pelvic pain (CPP) prepared these guidelines to
help urologists assess the evidence-based management of
CPP and to incorporate the recommendations into their
clinical practice. This overview provides a summary of the
recently updated version of the 2008 EAU guidelines on CPP,
available in print and on the EAU Web site [1].
Evidence acquisition
The data underpinning this document were gathered
through a systematic literature search carried out by the
EAU Guideline Group. Articles were selected from Medline,
relevant textbooks, and other guidance documents. The
focus was on high-quality data, and care was taken to cover
the time span between the previous text, dating back to
2003 [2] and today.
Whenever possible, the EAU working group has graded
treatment recommendations using a three-grade system
(A–C) [3] to help readers assess the validity of the
Evidence synthesis
Diagnosis and classification
Chronic (also known as persistent) pain is associated with
changes in the central nervous system (CNS) that may
maintain the perception of pain in the absence of acute
injury. These changes may also magnify perception so that
nonpainful stimuli are perceived as painful (allodynia) and
painful stimuli are perceived as more painful than expected
(hyperalgesia). Core muscles (eg, pelvic muscles) may
become hyperalgesic with multiple trigger points. Other
organs may also become sensitive (eg, the uterus with
dyspareunia and dysmenorrhoea or the bowel with irritable
bowel symptoms).
The changes within the CNS occur throughout the whole
neuroaxis. As a consequence, abnormal efferent activity
may be the cause of functional changes (eg, irritable bowel
symptoms) and structural changes (eg, neurogenic oedema
found in some bladder pain syndromes [BPSs]). The central
changes may also be responsible for some of the psychological changes, which also modify pain mechanisms in
their own right.
Basic investigations must be undertaken to rule out
‘‘well-defined’’ pathologies. If the results are negative, a
well-defined pathology is unlikely. Further investigations
should be done only for specific indications (eg, for
subdivision of a pain syndrome). The EAU guidelines avoid
spurious diagnostic terms that are associated with inappropriate investigations, treatments, and patient expectations and, ultimately, with a worse prognostic outlook [4].
The classification represents the efforts of many groups, and
further changes in this classification system are likely.
Table 1 is not comprehensive and emphasises mainly the
urologic pain syndromes.
Chronic pelvic pain terminology
Table 2 defines some terms used in chronic pelvic pain
Classification of chronic pelvic pain syndromes
The EAU classification of 2004 has been updated to provide a
classification related to investigation and further management of the pain syndromes. This allows for a possible
overlap of mechanisms between different conditions. It also
encourages recognition of overlapping symptoms and
treatment by a multidisciplinary approach (Table 1) [1,2,5,6].
A physician using the classification in Table 1 should
start on the left side of the table and proceed to the right
only if he or she can confidently confirm the pain to be
perceived in the appropriate system and organ. In many
cases, it may not be possible to go further than labelling
a condition as a pelvic pain syndrome. For example, in many
cases previously described as prostadynia, it may not be
possible to state categorically that the pain stems from the
prostate and not from other sites (eg, pelvic floor muscles).
Such cases are therefore labelled pelvic pain syndrome.
The European Society for the Study of IC/PBS (ESSIC) has
recently defined the BPS/interstitial cystitis (IC) syndrome,
supported by an international consensus editorial [7,8]. As
with the EAU system, ESSIC excluded well-defined nonpelvic pain (confusable) conditions. ESSIC has further
divided the BPS/IC syndrome according to the results of
cystoscopy and biopsy (see Table 5) [8].
An algorithm for chronic pelvic pain diagnosis and
The algorithm for diagnosing and treating CPP (Fig. 1) has
been written to guide a physician through the process from
diagnosis to management. A physician should follow steps 1
to 6 (Table 3) while referring to the correct column in the
algorithm. According to clinical practice, the various pain
syndromes are presented first, followed by general treatment options.
Prostate pain syndrome
Based on a more general definition (see Table 2), the term
prostate pain syndrome (PPS) is used instead of the National
Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
(NIDDK) term chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome. PPS is persistent discomfort or pain in the pelvic
region with sterile specimen cultures and either significant
or insignificant white blood cell counts in prostate-specific
specimens (ie, semen, expressed prostatic secretions, and
urine collected after prostate massage) [9]. Because there
are no clinically relevant diagnostic or therapeutic consequences arising from differentiating between inflammatory and noninflammatory subtypes, PPS can be regarded as
one entity.
Table 1 – European Association of Urology classification of chronic urogenital pain syndromes
EUROPEAN UROLOGY 57 (2010) 35–48
EUROPEAN UROLOGY 57 (2010) 35–48
Fig. 1 – Algorithm for diagnosis and management of chronic pelvic pain (CPP). See the full text of the CPP guidelines for further explanation [1].
DRE = digital rectal examination; PFM = pelvic floor muscle; PSA = prostate-specific antigen; TRUS = transrectal ultrasound; US = ultrasound.
EUROPEAN UROLOGY 57 (2010) 35–48
Table 2 – Definitions of chronic pelvic pain terms
Chronic pelvic pain
Pelvic pain syndrome
Bladder pain syndrome
Prostate pain syndrome
Scrotal pain syndrome
Pelvic floor muscle
pain syndrome
Nonmalignant pain perceived in structures related to the pelvis of both males and females. In the case of documented
nociceptive pain that becomes chronic, pain must have been continuous or recurrent for at least 6 mo. If nonacute and
central sensitisation pain mechanisms are well documented, the pain may be regarded as chronic, irrespective of the
time period. In all cases, there are often associated negative cognitive, behavioural, sexual, and emotional consequences
[1,2]. Chronic pelvic pain is subdivided into pelvic pain syndromes and non–pelvic pain syndromes.
Persistent or recurrent episodic pelvic pain associated with symptoms suggesting lower urinary tract, sexual, bowel,
or gynaecological dysfunction. No proven infection or other obvious pathology [6].
Suprapubic pain is related to bladder filling accompanied by other symptoms such as increased daytime and nighttime
frequency. No proven urinary infection or other obvious pathology.
Persistent or recurrent episodic prostate pain, associated with symptoms suggestive of urinary tract and/or sexual
dysfunction. No proven infection or other obvious pathology [1,2]. Definition adapted from the NIH consensus
definition and classification of prostatitis [5] and includes conditions described as ‘‘chronic pelvic pain syndrome.’’
Persistent or recurrent episodic scrotal pain associated with symptoms suggestive of urinary tract or sexual
dysfunction. No proven epididymoorchitis or other obvious pathology [6].
Persistent or recurrent episodic pelvic floor pain with associated trigger points either related to the micturition cycle
or associated with symptoms suggestive of urinary tract, bowel, or sexual dysfunction. No proven infection or other
obvious pathology [1,2].
NIH = US National Institutes of Health.
Table 3 – Guide to using the algorithm in Figure 1 for diagnosis and management of chronic pelvic pain
Start by considering the organ system in which the symptoms appear to be
primarily perceived
‘‘Well-defined’’ conditions, such as cystitis, should be diagnosed and treated
according to national or international guidelines
When treatment has no effect on the pain, additional tests (eg, cystoscopy or
ultrasound) should be performed
When these tests reveal any pathology, it should be treated appropriately
If treatment has no effect, the patient should be referred to a pain team
If no well-defined condition is present or when no pathology is found by
additional tests, the patient should also be referred to a pain team
The aetiology and pathophysiology of PPS remains a
mystery, although central neurologic mechanisms probably
play a role. Patients with PPS show no evidence of infection;
they do not have urethritis, urogenital cancer, urethral
stricture, or neurologic disease involving the bladder, and
they do not exhibit any overt renal tract disease [9].
PPS is a symptomatic diagnosis. It is diagnosed from a
history of persistent genitourinary pain and an absence of
First column
Second column and upper part third column
Lower part third column
Fourth column
Fifth column
Fifth column
other lower urinary tract pathologies. The severity of
disease, its progression, and treatment response can be
assessed only by means of a validated symptom-scoring
instrument [10,11], such as the US National Institutes of
Health Prostatitis Symptom Index [12].
The gold-standard four-glass test for bacterial localisation [13] is too complex for use by practising urologists [9].
Diagnostic efficiency may be enhanced cost effectively by a
simple screening procedure, that is, the two-glass test, or by
pre- and postmassage test (PPMT) [14], with PPMT able to
indicate the correct diagnosis in >96% of patients [15].
Table 4 – Treatment of prostate pain syndrome*
Level of evidence
Grade of recommendation
Antimicrobial therapy
Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs
5-a-Reductase inhibitors
Biofeedback, relaxation exercise,
lifestyle changes, massage
therapy, chiropractor therapy,
acupuncture, and meditation
* US National Institutes of Health Prostatitis Symptom Index.
Not effective, according to recent large randomised
controlled trial [16]
Give quinolones if previously untreated (naive) only;
reassess after 2–3 wk; duration 4–6 wk
As part of multimodal therapy for treatment-refractory
pain in collaboration with pain clinics
Long-term side- effects must be considered
If benign prostatic hyperplasia is present
As supportive second-line therapies
EUROPEAN UROLOGY 57 (2010) 35–48
Table 5 – European Society for the Study of IC/PBS classification of bladder pain syndrome based on cystoscopy with hydrodistension and
Cystoscopy with hydrodistension
Not done
Not done
Glomerulations (grade 2–3)
Hunner lesions, with/without glomerulations
* From van de Merwe et al [8].
Histology showing inflammatory infiltrates and/or detrusor mastocytosis and/or granulation tissue and/or intrafascicular fibrosis.
The unknown aetiology of PPS means treatment is often
anecdotal. Most patients require multimodal treatment
aimed at the main symptoms and considering comorbidities. Recent results from randomised controlled trials have
led to some advances in the knowledge about different
treatment options (Table 4) [16].
Bladder pain syndrome/interstitial cystitis
It is very important to realise that BPS/IC is a heterogeneous
spectrum of disorders that are still poorly defined, and
inflammation is an important feature in only a subset of
patients. To include all patients with bladder pain, the terms
painful bladder syndrome (PBS) and bladder pain syndrome
have been suggested as more accurate terminology [6,8].
This assumes that IC represents a special type of chronic
inflammation of the bladder, whereas PBS or BPS refers to
pain perceived in the bladder region. The term bladder pain
syndrome (ie, BPS) is used in these guidelines.
An extremely wide variety of diagnostic criteria have been
used because of the difficulty in defining IC (eg, the NIDDK
consensus criteria in the late 1980 s [17]).
In 2004 and again in 2008, ESSIC suggested a standardised scheme of diagnostic criteria [8,18] to make it easier
to compare different studies. BPS/IC should be diagnosed on
the basis of symptoms of pain associated with the urinary
bladder accompanied by at least one other symptom, such
as daytime and/or nighttime urinary frequency. Confusable
diseases should be excluded as the cause of symptoms.
Cystoscopy with hydrodistension and biopsy may be
indicated (Table 5) [8].
Fig. 2 – Flowchart for the diagnosis and therapy of bladder pain syndrome/interstitial cystitis.
BPS = bladder pain syndrome; DMSO = dimethyl sulfoxide; EMDA = electromotive drug administration; ESSIC = European Society for the Study of IC/PBS;
IC = interstitial cystitis; ICSI = Interstitial Cystitis Symptom Index; PPS = pentosan polysulfate sodium; TUR = transurethral resection.
EUROPEAN UROLOGY 57 (2010) 35–48
There are many different hypotheses about the causes of
BPS/IC, including infection, inflammation, autoimmune
mechanisms, defects in the urothelial glycosaminoglycan
layer, hypoxia, and central neurologic mechanisms [19].
Reports of the prevalence of BPS/IC have varied tremendously, with an American review claiming that 20% of
women may be affected [20]. In contrast, however, the
physician-diagnosed incidence in Olmsted County (MN,
USA) was extremely low at 1.1 of 100 000 people [21]. There
is increasing evidence that BPS/IC may have a genetic
component, with urgency/frequency problems more likely
to be reported in female relatives of 35% of patients with BPS
and 33% of patients with urethral syndrome [22]. An
association has been reported between BPS and inflammatory bowel disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjögren
syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, endometriosis, and panic disorders [23–26]. An excellent review
has explored comorbidities of BPS/IC with other unexplained clinical conditions presented in the literature [27].
BPS/IC is diagnosed using symptoms, examination, urine
analysis, cystoscopy with hydrodistension, and biopsy
(Fig. 2). Patients present with characteristic pain and
urinary frequency, which is sometimes extreme and always
includes nocturia. The character of the pain is the key
symptom of the disease. The pain is related to the degree of
bladder filling, typically increasing with increasing bladder
content. It is located suprapubically, sometimes radiating to
the groins, vagina, rectum, or sacrum. Pain is relieved by
voiding but soon returns [28–31].
The two IC subtypes have different clinical presentations
and age distribution [32] and can be discriminated
noninvasively [33]. The two subtypes respond differently
to treatment [34–37] and express different histopathologic,
immunologic, and neurobiologic features [19,38–43].
Diagnosis of IC may be supported by use of the potassium
chloride bladder permeability test, symptom scores, and
biologic markers.
Tables 6 and 7 list recommendations for the treatment of
Scrotal pain syndrome
A physical examination should always be done in patients
with scrotal pain. Gentle palpation of each component of the
scrotum is performed to search for masses and for painful
spots. A digital rectal examination is done to look for prostate
abnormalities and examine the pelvic floor muscles. Scrotal
ultrasound has limited value in finding the cause of the pain
[44]. Pain in the scrotum can be the result of trigger points in
the pelvic floor but also in the lower abdominal musculature.
In the case of scrotal pain syndrome, the evidence for surgery
is limited. A multidisciplinary approach including physiotherapy is recommended.
Table 6 – Medical treatment of bladder pain syndrome/interstitial cystitis
Cyclosporin A
Level of evidence
Grade of recommendation
Limited to cases awaiting further treatment
Standard treatment, even though limited efficacy shown in RCT
Standard treatment
Standard treatment; data contradictory
RCT showed superior to PPS but with more adverse effects
IC = interstitial cystitis; PPS = pentosan polysulfate sodium; RCT = randomised controlled trial.
Table 7 – Intravesical, interventional, alternative, and surgical treatment of bladder pain syndrome/interstitial cystitis
Intravesical PPS
Intravesical hyaluronic acid
Intravesical chondroitin sulphate
Intravesical DMSO
Bladder distension
Electromotive drug administration
Transurethral resection (coagulation and laser)
Nerve blockade/epidural pain pumps
Bladder training
Manual and physical therapy
Psychological therapy
Surgical treatment
Level of evidence
Grade of recommendation
PPS = pentosan polysulfate sodium; DMSO = dimethyl sulfoxide; NA = type of evidence not applicable.
Hunner lesions only. See full text [1]
For crisis intervention; affects pain only
Patients with little pain
Very variable data, ultima ratio,
experienced surgeons only. See full text [1]
EUROPEAN UROLOGY 57 (2010) 35–48
Urethral pain syndrome
Urethral pain syndrome is a poorly defined entity. Positive
diagnostic signs, although sometimes lacking, are urethral
tenderness or pain on palpation and an inflamed urethral
mucosa found during endoscopy. Hypotheses about the
aetiology include concealed infections of the periurethral
glands or ducts and oestrogen deficiency. Others consider
urethral syndrome to be a less severe form of ‘‘early’’ BPS/IC
[22]. In clinical practice, the diagnosis of urethral pain
syndrome is commonly given to patients who present with
pain or discomfort in association with micturition (with or
without frequency, nocturia, urgency, and urge incontinence) in the absence of evidence of urinary infection. The
absence of urinary infection causes problems because the
methods typically used to identify urinary infection are
extremely insensitive. Dysuria is pain or discomfort experienced in association with micturition. It is important to
remember that urethral pain syndrome often does not occur
in isolation but rather is one facet of a chronic pain syndrome.
Treatment is very difficult, and there is no consensus on
how to proceed. Traditionally, dilatation of the urethra
followed by application of a cortisone-antibiotic ointment
has been recommended, but there is no evidence to support
this treatment. Various modalities including systemic
antibiotics, a-blockers, and acupuncture as well as laser
therapy have been tested in trials [45]. Management may
require a multidisciplinary approach.
Pelvic pain in gynaecologic practice
Pelvic pain presenting to the gynaecologist relies on a full
clinical history, examination, and appropriate investigations (eg, genital swabs, pelvic imaging, and diagnostic
laparoscopy) to discover remediable causes and treat them
using the most effective available therapies. However, the
greatest therapeutic challenge is provided by the 30% of
patients in whom no cause can be found [46].
The most common gynaecologic pain conditions are said
to include dysmenorrhoea, pelvic infections, endometriosis,
and adhesions. Dysmenorrhoea and endometriosis may
benefit from hormonal therapy and, in some cases, specialised surgery [47,48]. Pelvic infections usually respond to
antibiotic therapy, but if the chronicity of the condition
persists, patients may need surgery to remove hydro- or
pyosalpinges. Gynaecologic malignancies often present
with symptoms akin to BPS and should be treated similarly.
Neurogenic conditions
When CPP is not explained by local pelvic pathology, a
neurologic opinion should be sought to exclude any form
of conus or sacral root pathology. When indicated,
magnetic resonance imaging is the investigation of choice
to show both neural tissue and surrounding structures.
If all examinations and investigations fail to reveal an
abnormality, the diagnosis is likely to be a focal pain
syndrome (eg, pudendal nerve entrapment). Treatment for
each condition is individually tailored.
Pelvic floor function and dysfunction
The pelvic floor has three functions: support, contraction,
and relaxation. Pelvic floor dysfunction should be classified
according to The standardisation of terminology of pelvic
floor muscle function and dysfunction, published by the
International Continence Society (ICS) [49]. As in all ICS
standardisation documents, this reference is based on
the triad of symptom, sign, and condition. Symptoms are
what the patient tells you; signs are found by physical
Contraction and relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles is
assessed by palpation. Based on the results, the function of
the pelvic floor muscles is classified as normal, overactive,
underactive, or nonfunctioning.
Myofascial trigger points
Repeated or chronic muscular overload can activate
trigger points in the muscle. Trigger points are defined
as hyperirritable spots associated with a hypersensitive
palpable nodule in a taut band within muscle [50].
Pain arising from trigger points is aggravated by specific
movements and alleviated by certain positions. Patients
know what activities and postures affect the pain. Patients
with trigger points in their pelvic floor muscle sit down
cautiously, often on one buttock [51]. Rising after a period of
sitting causes pain. Pain is aggravated by pressure on the
trigger point (eg, pain related to sexual intercourse). Pain
also gets worse after sustained or repeated contractions (eg,
pain related to voiding or defaecation). On physical
examination, trigger points can be palpated and compression gives local and referred pain. Differential diagnosis
includes an endometriotic nodule or a tumour.
In patients with CPP, trigger points are often found in
muscles related to the pelvis such as the abdominal, gluteal,
and piriformis muscles.
Treating pelvic floor overactivity should be considered in
the management of CPP [52]. A number of methods taught
by specialised physiotherapists can be used to improve the
function and coordination of the pelvic floor muscles.
Sexual dysfunction in women and men
Sexual dysfunction is classified as either hypoactive sexual
desire or disorders of sexual desire, sexual arousal, orgasm,
or sexual pain [53].
In men 60–70 yr of age, almost 60% were found to have
erectile dysfunction to a greater or lesser extent [54]. But
potency is not the only problem encountered. Many men
also suffer trouble with desire, arousability, satisfaction,
and ability to achieve orgasm. All of these factors become
compounded when pain is a feature. The literature available
on the effect of chronic urogenital pain on the male
psychology is limited, despite the fact that urogenital pain is
not uncommon. Indeed, the primary reason for attending a
EUROPEAN UROLOGY 57 (2010) 35–48
urology clinic for men <50 yr of age is for urogenital pain
Although it is recognised that chronic pain affects sexual
function [56], there is little research on the effect of chronic
urogenital pain on sexual function [56]. Despite the lack of
published data, many men in a urogenital pain clinic admit
to avoiding sex due to the four factors, outlined above, as a
result of pain. Others avoid sex because sexual activity
results in increased pain. The importance of sexual
avoidance is medically significant to these men because
it is enforced celibacy and not celibacy through choice.
Patients avoid seeking new relationships so that they do
not have to face, among other factors, the embarrassment of
having to discuss the problem. Established relationships can
also break down as a consequence of this multifactorial
condition. Unsurprisingly, sexual dysfunction heightens
anger, frustration, and depression, all of which place a
strain on a relationship. The partners of men with sexual
dysfunction and depression often present with similar
symptoms [57].
The urologist has a critical role not only in male sexual
dysfunction but also in female sexual dysfunction (FSD)
[58]. The prevalence of FSD has been estimated as between
25% and 63%, depending on the definition used and the
population [59,60]. It is often a cause of pelvic floor
dysfunction, commonly caused by childbirth in younger
women and by menopause in older women [61–63].
Patients with neurologic disease have a higher prevalence
of all types of sexual function disorder [64,65], although
precise figures are not known.
Women with pain also avoid sexual contact for the same
defined factors exhibited in men because it exacerbates the
problem. Essentially, FSD is a multifactorial problem that
may be exacerbated by chronic pain [66]. Interestingly, in
an important paper by Heinberg et al, it is pain severity and
site that explains variance in patients with symptoms, such
as depression, physical disability and catastrophising,
rather than the patient’s genetic sex [67]. Irrespective of
the site of the pain (pelvis or back) or the gender, patients
were depressed equally, with higher pain scores associated
with greater depression. Difficulty with coping (catastrophising) and disability were greater with back pain.
Treatment in both men and women with neurologic or
nonneurologic disease needs to be individually tailored. The
definitive cause needs to be determined and treated.
Treatment in both genders should include psychology,
pelvic floor exercises/training, electrical stimulation feed-
back, and cognitive therapy and pharmacotherapy, if
required [68–70]. Pelvic floor physiotherapy should be
performed while considering the core muscles as a whole,
especially when pain is a contributory feature [71]. Both
male and female sexual dysfunctions are difficult to treat,
especially where pain is a significant component, and it is
advocated that all couples be evaluated within the context
of a multidisciplinary clinic setting. Male sexual dysfunction in a general context is discussed in the EAU guidelines
on male sexual dysfunction [72].
Psychological factors in persistent/chronic pelvic pain
Psychological factors affect the development and maintenance of persistent pelvic pain, adjustment to pain, and
the outcome of treatments. It is not simply pain that
causes distress and loss of valued activities that are
attributable to pain; it is also worries about damage,
disease, and prolonged suffering, particularly when there is
no clear diagnosis [73,74].
There is strong evidence for the involvement of
cognitive and emotional processes in pain processing.
The alternative model of somatisation/somatoform pain
disorder lacks an evidence base but is widespread in lay
beliefs and medical literature; however, the absence of
significant physical signs is not evidence for substantial
psychological causation [75].
Anxiety, depression, and sexual problems are common in
CPP in women and should be addressed in assessment and
treatment [76,77]. A history of sexual or physical abuse is
fairly common, but it also occurs in other pain, physical, and
psychological problems. Prospective studies [78,79] cast
doubt on a causal link. The only studies in men identify
depression associated with urologic symptoms [80];
anxiety and depression may lead to withdrawal from
normal activities [81]. In both men and women, current
sexual problems are likely [82].
Assessment of psychological factors
Although a psychologist (or equivalent) is not necessary for
this level of assessment (Table 8), the clinician will be able
to interpret the results better in liaison with a psychologist.
Direct questioning about the patient’s view of what is
wrong or what worries him or her is more help than
anxiety questionnaires [83]. If the patient admits to
depressed mood and attributes it to pain, psychologically
based pain management may be required. Disclosure of
Table 8 – Psychological factors in the assessment of chronic pelvic pain
Anxiety about cause of pain: Ask, ‘‘Are you worried
about what might be causing your pain?’’
Depression attributed to pain: Ask, ‘‘How has the
pain affected your life?’’
Ask, ‘‘How does the pain make you feel emotionally?’’
Multiple physical symptoms/general health
History of sexual or physical abuse
Level of
Grade of
Studies of women only; men’s anxieties
not studied
Studies of women only; men’s anxieties
not studied
Current/recent abuse may be more important
EUROPEAN UROLOGY 57 (2010) 35–48
Table 9 – Physical and psychological treatment in the management of chronic pelvic pain
Level of evidence
Tension reduction; relaxation,
for pain reduction
Multidisciplinary pain
management for well-being
Grade of recommendation
Relaxation with or without biofeedback with or without
physical therapy; mainly male pelvic pain
Pelvic pain patients treated with psychology-based pain
management; few specific pelvic pain trials
Table 10 – Pharmacological treatment of chronic pelvic pain
Type of pain
Level of evidence
Grade of recommendation
COX-2 antagonists
Somatic pain
Neuropathic pain
Pelvic pain
Neuropathic pain
nonmalignant pain
Neuropathic pain
Benefit is limited and based on arthritic pain
Avoid in patients with cardiovascular risk factors
Better than placebo but unable to distinguish
between different NSAIDs
Evidence suggests pelvic pain is similar to
neuropathic pain
Limited long-term data; should only be used
by clinicians experienced in their use
Benefit is probably clinically significant;caution
with use, as above
COX = cyclooxygenase-2; NSAID = nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug.
childhood physical and sexual abuse does not affect
management of the pain. Any disclosure of current
physical or sexual abuse should be referred immediately
to appropriate services. All treatment should be evaluated
for its impact on quality of life.
Psychological factors in treatment of pelvic pain
There are few treatment studies. Female pelvic pain shows a
significant rate of spontaneous symptom remission in
women over the years following presentation [84]. Integrating physical and psychosocial treatments is likely to produce
the best results for both men and women (Table 9) [85].
General treatment of chronic pelvic pain
There is very little specific evidence for the role of analgesic
and coanalgesic drugs in CPP. Because CPP is thought to be
modulated by similar mechanisms to those of somatic,
visceral, and neuropathic pain, the recommendations that
follow were derived from the general chronic pain literature
(Table 10).
Simple analgesics
Paracetamol should be considered on its own. It should be
considered as an alternative to or given with nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) because it is well
tolerated with few side-effects.
There is very little evidence for NSAIDs to be used in
the management of CPP. Most analgesic studies have
investigated dysmenorrhoea, in which NSAIDs were found
to be superior to placebo and possibly paracetamol [86].
there is a suggestion of nerve injury or central sensitisation, consider the algorithm in Fig. 3. A review has
suggested that tricyclics are effective for neuropathic
pain, with limited evidence for selective serotonin
reuptake inhibitors and insufficient evidence for other
antidepressants [88].
Neuropathic analgesics Tricyclic antidepressants. An animal study suggests that
tricyclic antidepressants may have a role in cystitis [87]. If Anticonvulsants. Anticonvulsants have been used in
pain management for many years. Little evidence supports
the use of anticonvulsants in the management of genitourinary pain. However, they should be considered for possible
neuropathic pain or central sensitisation. Anticonvulsants
have no place in acute pain [89].
Gabapentin has been introduced for pain management
[90]. It is said to have fewer serious side-effects compared
with the older anticonvulsants. It is licensed in some
countries for chronic neuropathic pain.
It is generally accepted that opioids have a role in the
management of chronic nonmalignant pain [91]. The use of
opioids in urogenital pain is poorly defined. Their use in
neuropathic pain remains equivocal, but a meta-analysis
suggests clinically important benefits [92].
Nonpharmacologic treatment Nerve blocks. Neural blockade for pain management
is usually carried out by a consultant in pain medicine
with an anaesthetic background. Procedures may be
performed for diagnostic reasons and/or therapeutic
benefit. Diagnostic blocks can be difficult to interpret
because of the many mechanisms by which a block may
be acting. All nerve blocks should be performed with
appropriate attention to safety, including the presence of
skilled support staff and appropriate monitoring and
EUROPEAN UROLOGY 57 (2010) 35–48
Fig. 3 – Guidelines for the use of neuropathic analgesics.
resuscitation equipment. It is essential that appropriate
equipment be used for the procedure, including the
correct block needles, nerve location devices, and imaging
(ie, x-ray image intensifier, ultrasound, or computerised
[35], 54% of patients with classic IC were helped by TENS.
Less favourable results were obtained in nonulcer IC.
It is difficult to assess the efficacy of TENS in BPS/IC with
accuracy. Controlled studies are difficult to design because
treatment requires the administration of high-intensity
stimulation at specific sites over a very long period of time. Suprapubic transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation in
bladder pain syndrome/interstitial cystitis. Observations are
scant. Current experience is based on open studies. In the
largest study published to date of suprapubic transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) in 60 patients
(33 patients with classic IC and 27 with nonulcer disease) Sacral neuromodulation in pelvic pain syndromes. Neuropathic pain and complex regional pain syndromes have
been treated successfully with neurostimulation applied to
dorsal columns and peripheral nerves [93]. There may be a
role for neuromodulation in CPP.
EUROPEAN UROLOGY 57 (2010) 35–48 Botulinum toxin. Recent data suggest that botulinum
[4] Abrams P, Baranowski A, Berger R, Fall M, Hanno P, Wesselmann U.
toxin has a role not only in overactive detrusor dysfunctions
but also in bladder pain [94,95].
A new classification is needed for pelvic pain syndromes—are
existing terminologies of spurious diagnostic authority bad for
patients? J Urol 2006;175:1989–90.
[5] Krieger JN, Nyberg Jr L, Nickel JC. NIH consensus definition and
Author contributions: Magnus Fall had full access to all the data in the
study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the
accuracy of the data analysis.
Study concept and design: Fall, Baranowski, Elneil, Engeler, Hughes,
Messelink, Oberpenning, Williams.
Acquisition of data: Fall, Baranowski, Elneil, Engeler, Hughes, Messelink,
Oberpenning, Williams.
Analysis and interpretation of data: Fall, Baranowski, Elneil, Engeler,
Hughes, Messelink, Oberpenning, Williams.
Drafting of the manuscript: Fall, Baranowski, Elneil, Engeler, Hughes,
Messelink, Oberpenning, Williams.
Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content:
Fall, Baranowski, Elneil, Engeler, Hughes, Messelink, Oberpenning,
Statistical analysis: Fall, Baranowski, Elneil, Engeler, Hughes, Messelink,
Oberpenning, Williams.
Obtaining funding: None.
Administrative, technical, or material support: None.
Supervision: Fall, Baranowski, Elneil, Engeler, Hughes, Messelink,
Oberpenning, Williams.
Other (specify): None.
Financial disclosures: I certify that all conflicts of interest, including
specific financial interests and relationships and affiliations relevant to
classification of prostatitis. JAMA 1999;282:236–7.
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the subject matter or materials discussed in the manuscript (eg,
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employment/affiliation, grants or funding, consultancies, honoraria,
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received, or pending), are the following: Dr. Fall has received honoraria
[15] Nickel JC, Shoskes D, Wang Y, et al. How does the pre-massage and
from Pfizer, MSD, UCB Nordic, and Orion; is a consultant for Pfizer;
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participates in trials for Astellas, Pfizer, and Medtronic; and receives
test in men with chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome?
research grants from Medtronic. Dr. Baranowski is a consultant for
J Urol 2006;176:119–24.
Mundipharma, Astellas, and Valeant Pharmaceuticals; is a chairman of
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the Royal Society of Medicine Pain Steering Group; serves on the
N Engl J Med 2008;359:2663–73.
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guidelines for ESSIC. Dr. Elneil has equity interests, owns patents,
Arthritis, Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases Workshop on
receives royalties, consults, participates in trials, and receives fellow-
Interstitial Cystitis, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Mary-
ships and travel and research grants from NIH; she also receives
land, August 28–29,1987. J Urol 1988; 140:203–6.
honoraria from Allergan and Medtronic. Dr. Engeler receives research
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AMS, and Gynaecare; participates in trials for Allergan; and receives
research grants from Astellas and Pfizer. Drs. Hughes, Oberpenning, and
Williams have nothing to disclose.
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